June 18, 2007: Yellow has given the union a proposed change of operations that would lead to the closing of the Columbus Ohio breakbulk and road operation. Local 413 would lose 182 jobs (92 road plus 90 dock, shop and yard).
The work would be aligned, most of it through Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis. Management wants the proposal to be heard and approved by the Change of Operations committee on July 17.
For a copy of Yellow management’s proposed change, click here.
June 8, 2007: Thousands of Teamsters are working under the national freight agreement at wages that are at or below nonunion scale.
Most are not “trainees” but Teamsters with years of experience.
This problem can be corrected in the upcoming contract.
The NMFA has a starting wage of 75 percent of scale, which is now about $16.50 per hour. Over a two-year period, a Teamster will lose about $25,000 in wages before reaching union scale.
The tiered wage creates divisions among Teamsters. It gives companies an excuse to use more casuals, because they claim they are having trouble hiring people. It’s to time return our contract to union scale for all.
IBT Survey: Too Weak
In late May the Teamster Freight Division sent all local union officials a survey on the NMFA. The good news is that the survey recognized that the tiered wage is a problem.
The bad news: it didn’t even offer the option of eliminating the tiered wage. It offered three choices: shorten the progression, increase the start rate, or start experienced Teamsters at full scale.
That last option—retain the tiered wage except for experienced Teamsters—it might look inviting, but it could be a disaster. If you give an employer a choice of hiring an experienced Teamsters at $22 or someone from a nonunion carrier at $16.50, you may make it hard for Teamsters to gain work in freight.
The answer is clear: end the tiered wage.
June 8, 2007: Where is the Freight Division of our union? While Ken Hall and Hoffa “seriously consider” allowing UPS to split apart the Central States Pension Plan, the Freight Division should be sounding the alarm.
Behind closed doors, maybe they are. But it’s time to come out of the closet and speak out to defend our pension plans and our Teamster unity. Teamster leaders are elected to be the members’ voice to Hoffa, not the other way around.
One week after Ken Hall put out a press release about UPS wanting to pull out of the Central States, freight Teamsters got a nearly identical message from Freight Director Tyson Johnson.
For years now, Tyson Johnson and our own local leaders have been telling us how detrimental it is for any company to pull out of our pension fund.
A one-time payment from UPS is fine for the short term, but what about 20 years down the road? Pulling 40 percent of the contribution base out would be disastrous. Tyson Johnson needs to stand up for all Teamsters and tell Hoffa and Hall there’s nothing to negotiate with UPS when it comes to destroying Teamster pensions and Teamster power.
Greg Smith is a clerk at Yellow in Cleveland Local 407.
“We believe there is an opportunity in this negotiating cycle to withdraw from some or all of these [Teamster pension plans] and provide benefits directly to our employees…”
“We view the multiemployer [Teamster pension] withdrawal opportunity to be the most significant thing facing us.”
Robert Davidson, CEO of ABF, May 8, 2007
There you have it. The CEO is telling you that ABF would love to bust our pension plans and take over employee pensions in the next round of negotiations.
We should push that off the table right from the start, and let the carriers know that we are bargaining to improve health care and pensions, not turn control over to the employers.
The best way to start would be setting a precedent in the UPS and UPS Freight negotiations: bring more brothers and sisters into our Teamster pension plans, and not split them up.
June 8, 2007: Freight Teamsters be warned: the Freight Division apparently isn’t considering fighting to restore retiree health coverage where it has been devastated. Nor is there a plan to win a timetable for pension improvements.
On May 30 a three-page Freight Survey was mailed to all local union officers.
It has three questions (out of 15) on pensions and health care. But none of them call for any choice other than “maintaining Teamster pension plans” or “maintaining Teamster health plans.”
Maintaining a health plan is not anywhere near what we need.
We need affordable retiree health coverage restored in this contract in the Central States Fund and in other areas where it has been cut—guaranteed, in writing.
It is practical, it is in winnable, and it is necessary to restore promises made to Teamsters, and to keep our union growing and organizing.
June 8, 2007: Thanks to a lawsuit by a Roadway Teamster, workers who are off drawing disability pay and using Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time should no longer be forced to use up their vacation time. An employee should now have the option to take the vacation pay, or save the accrued vacation time.
But Yellow Freight doesn’t recognize the decision by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. They insist that they will continue to make Teamsters exhaust their vacation time. The IBT Freight Division issued a statement to the effect that they intend to enforce this improvement.
June 8, 2007: There is a glaring weakness in Teamster national contracts—UPS, freight, and carhaul—which should be corrected in this bargaining round. The contract lets employers require a Teamster off on family or medical leave to burn up their vacation time.As it stands at present, if an employee uses leave time because of a childbirth or to care for a sick parent, they cannot take any vacation that year.
The court case referenced above is only a partial solution. It says that a Teamster who is drawing disability pay from a health and welfare fund is protected from vacation exhaustion, but Teamsters on FMLA time who are not drawing disability pay are not protected. It’s time to fix this in all national contracts.
UPS has put an offer on the bargaining table to take 42,000 UPS Teamsters out of the Central States Fund. The CEO of ABF just announced he wants to pull out of all Teamster benefit plans.
The Hoffa administration is also considering a deal to keep all UPS Freight Teamsters out of our traditional Teamster pension plans as part of a contract that would be substandard to the NMFA.
Together, these proposals would put Freight Teamsters in jeopardy. They would undercut our bargaining power before the 2008 NMFA talks and they would put our future benefits at risk.
Freight Teamsters won’t have a vote on the UPS contract or the UPS Freight deal in Indianapolis—but we do have a voice and it’s time to use it.
We need to call on our leaders in the Freight Division to stand up for Freight Teamsters: no deals with UPS or UPS Freight that would undercut our contract or our pensions.
Call 202-624-6800 or fax 202-624-8722.
May 22, 2007: YRC is acquiring trailers with flip-signs that say Roadway on one side, and Yellow on the other.
This will provide a pool of switchable trailers, especially for rail use. A number of Teamsters have expressed concern that it is a sign that merger of Yellow and Roadway may be on the horizon. But no major integration of operations is expected soon.
May 17, 2007:The House passed legislation (H.R. 1773) May 15 that establishes strict requirements for an administration pilot plan to let Mexican trucks operate inside the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the "Safe American Roads Act of 2007" would assure in-depth audits and oversight of the Department of Transportation program to allow Mexican trucks to cross into the United States. DeFazio said he wished the president would withdraw from NAFTA provisions requiring the United States to open its border to Mexican truck traffic, but that at least Congress is being assured DOT is protecting America's roadways.
The legislation was approved 411-3 under suspension rules, which require a two-thirds majority for passage. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
DOT Delayed Pilot Program
DOT in April suspended plans to move forward with a pilot program to open the border that it had earlier announced in February (84 DLR A-10, 5/3/07 ). The agency in May published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments from interested parties on the pilot program after being sued by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and other plaintiffs for not complying with public notice provisions.
H.R. 1773 limits pilot program participation to 100 Mexican motor carriers and 1,000 commercial motor vehicles. It also requires DOT to establish the pilot program through notice and comment rulemaking, describes required elements of any program, and states that the program will be terminated if DOT does not comply with any provision of the bill.
The bill would also require the DOT inspector general to issue a report to Congress prior to initiation of a pilot project and establish an independent review panel to monitor and evaluate the pilot program.
In addition, the bill would require the Mexican government to have a reciprocal program for U.S. carriers that seek to transport goods in the Mexican interior. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said in May, upon delaying implementation of the program, that the pilot program would not begin until U.S. carriers had obtained reciprocal operating authority for long-haul operations in Mexico.
Hoffa Praises Bill's Passage
Following passage, IBT President James P. Hoffa said that the bill "ensures that the American traveling public is protected. The Bush administration can no longer ignore Congress and the American people on this important safety and security issue," he said.
"The Bush administration has given us sketchy information about its plans to throw open our borders to unsafe Mexican trucks," Hoffa said. "We don't know how safety laws such as hours of service and drug testing would be enforced. This vote by the House repudiates those questionable attempts to open our borders without adequate safeguards."